Wrestle with life, then grow and learn

Wrestle with life, then grow and learn
Published: Friday, February 19, 2010 9:11 AM US/eastern
By NATHAN DAY WILSON

Wrestling with life, while always difficult and sometimes traumatic, is both unavoidable and, more importantly, necessary because wrestling with life helps us develop vision in life as well as expectations. Wrestling with life gives us insight as well as experience. We grow in compassion and in character. Wrestling with life — difficult and scarring though it is — transforms us and enables us to transform.

Wrestling with life is of the essence of life. In the process, we learn things about ourselves and we come to understand some things about God as well. God gives life, and in the giving allows us to be co-creators, full participants with the chance to make decisions, and part of making decisions is taking charge of our lives.

Wrestling with life drives us to find God within us and God in the darkness that surrounds us. Think about that for a moment. Some of us hesitate to say that God is within us, maybe because we think it sounds like we are puffing ourselves up, elevating ourselves above others, showing off and so on. Others hesitate to say that God is in the darkness that surrounds us, as though the darkness is only the absence of God.

But instead, a lesson from the story of Jacob wrestling in the dark, a lesson I think God would have us know is that wrestling with life helps us find God within and God in the darkness that surrounds us.

Here’s how Rumi, a 12th-century poet, put it:
I saw Grief drinking a cup of sorrow and called out, “It tastes sweet, does it not?”
“You’ve caught me, and now you’ve ruined my business,” said Grief. “How can I sell sorrow when you know it’s a blessing?”

There is beauty in the dark valleys of life. We call it hope. We call it spiritual growth — grounded in the ability to remember a difficult past, either our own or someone else’s, that became new life more than we could ever imagine. Our difficult pasts — our times of scuffling and scrapping, rumbling and wrestling with life — prove to us that whatever it was that we ever before thought would crush us, would trample us, would completely paralyze us has been survived.

And if that is true, then we can survive and grow through whatever we are wrestling with now.

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